Hey guys, I'm back. This is the first chapter of Drawing Conclusions. Yay! You might want to read By Any Means Necessary and Grocery Day first though, because Drawing Conclusions is the third part of a four part series. I don't own Sailor Moon by the way. I only wish I did. Enjoy!
She gently floated among the warm, lavender scented bubbles, relaxed and drained. Her long, dark hair was precariously piled on top of her head in order to prevent it from getting wet. It took forever to dry and the only reason she didn't cut it was because her grandfather said it made her look like her mother. She barely remembered her mother and her image had faded from her mind over time. The only things she had left of her were two faded photos in a shoebox of keepsakes under her bed. One was a wedding picture and another was a school picture. She looked serious in both. Her mother's hair was up in one and down in another. So Rei never cut her hair. She felt the steam rise from the surface and lightly fan her flushed cheeks. She closed her smoky purple eyes in pleasure and wriggled her toes, as she soaked in the heat. A manga lay slung over the toilet seat. She had given up on reading it in the tub. The pages would somehow get wet from her fingertips and they wrinkled from the steam. She knew that Ami had perfected a method of reading in the tub, but she had never gotten around to asking her. It was too suspicious. She was now in her twenties. Serious adults didn't read manga and she never was known to read anything else in her free time as a teenager. Her reputation was at sake. She'd just have to do a trial and error again next Saturday. She and the rest of the senshi were extremely close, but sometimes it was nice to keep a secret about herself from the others. Even Mina didn't know and she knew everything. She smiled at the memory of Mina asking her if she farted. What was she doing now, thought Rei lazily to herself. Ah. Well, she'd see Mina on later on today and catch up on the gossip about her time spent in jail. If it was one thing she could count on her for, it was a good story. She was a born actress and she told stories as if she was being inflicted a great indignity. It was wonderful to watch. Secretly she wondered if her dramatics came from Artemis or if Artemis learned his hysterics from her.
Rei lazily eyed the gripping novel on the toilet and she sighed. She was dying to reread it. It was the second to last book in the Hakumoro series. The man was a genius for gripping story lines. It was about a woman whose father was kidnapped and held for ransom. So far she had gone through a whole lot in order to rescue him. Rei would never do that for her own father, but she understood how Akia felt. She would do the same for her grandfather. Apparently, it was going to be made into a movie. Mina was trying out for the part and Rei was praying almost everyday that she would get it. She wanted to read Mina's script to see how he changed the storyline. The last book was to be released today and she was itching to see how it would end. She wanted to reread it at least twice in the bookstore before she met the girls for Grocery Day. She sighed and sat up in the tub. She would have to drop the book off in the temple storage closet before she went grocery shopping. It was where she kept her manga collection now. She figured it was relatively safe there since all but two of her friends had a severe aversion to cleaning anything. There was only one frantic moment in which her grandfather had cleaned out the temple and had given the books away to the local library. Phobos and Deimos had not come back to the temple for days afterward, the sacred fire had gone out, and her grandfather had to ritually cleanse the temple's aura of her anger. It was pretty bad, but he now knew specifically what not to give away.
Sunlight streamed in through the window and directly into her face. She had been awake for sometime now and she was consciously fighting opening her eyes. She exhaled. There was no use resisting it; besides her eyelids were starting to hurt from the direct application of sunlight. She rolled over onto her side and slowly opened her eyes. The room was white and in the right light it would turn yellow and the hints of gold in the wallpaper would stand out; like now. His head and forearms were on the bed. He was still in a sitting position; he hadn't moved from this position since last night. They had stayed awake without speaking for Kami knew how long; she was still tired and emotionally drained. She and Kunzite had a lot in common, more than she thought. They each shared themselves with others in a piecemeal way, little by little until the whole story was formed. She had never told anyone why she wanted to become an actress before; she just let the others assume that it was another one of her obsessions, like idol chasing. She bet it was the same for him. She lightly stroked his head and he shot up with a loud and startled snort. She smiled. He had been drooling again.
"Morning" he mumbled sleepily, wiping his face and slowly getting up to stretch and work out the kinks from his odd sleeping position. He grimaced and rolled his shoulder around to stretch out a knot that had formed. She watched him from her position, unmoving.
"Morning" she echoed solemnly. He looked at her appraisingly.
"How are you feeling?" he asked quietly kneeling next to her.
"Okay" she said looking away at his close inspection.
"Today's Grocery Day" he offered in an attempt to cheer her up.
"It is" she stated lifelessly.
She sat up and looked up at him at the sound of her name. It was the way he said it, so helplessly.
"I'm sorry" he said cupping the back of her head and pressing his forehead against hers.
"Don't worry about it. I'll get over it" she said kissing him softly and reassuringly.
It went without saying that it would take her awhile to do so.
It was only upon later reflection that he would realize that it was her presence that briefly made him notice her. He looked up as the bell of the tiny bookstore rang, his attention torn away from his work. He was seated near the window, sketching, with a cup of green tea. Basking in the sunlight was one of his favorite activities and he did it as much as his hectic schedule would allow. She was immaculately dressed as if she had just stepped out of a catalog. Her even strides commanded attention and she walked with authority. That was where his interest ended. He turned his attention back to his sketch pad. She was intriguing, but not enough to draw him away from his work. Very little could. He was making some changes to the script and tweaking some things. There was another darker purpose for being here as well. Something he took great sadistic pleasure in on release days. She walked into the aisle next to where he was sitting. Slowly, he smiled. He waited. He had caught three people today and he wanted at least one more before he left to finish his other business. Moments later, the sound of a page turning near his seat alerted him and he looked over in the aisle at his newest victim. A closer look revealed that she was crouched on the ground reading his novel. He turned his attention back to his pad; timing was everything and patience was a virtue.
"Excuse me miss, but shouldn't you buy the book first before you read it?"
Rei froze and her temper began to rear its head. She was riveted and halfway into the book, when some idiot had interrupted her in an important scene. She pulled off her shades and looked up at the man's slightly scornful face. His tousled blonde hair was slightly hanging in his eyes and immediately annoyed her. He was fashionably dressed in white and he looked like he was going out for a day on the beach. She narrowed her eyes; this fool obviously did not know who he was dealing with. He raised his eyebrow, slightly surprised at the challenge in her eyes. Most people slunk away after apologizing profusely. It seemed that she would stand her ground. He inspected her, impressed by her dark amethyst eyes. The black eye she had, only intrigued him more. How had she gotten it?
"What did you say?" she asked him nastily, her eyes flashing as she stood to face the unfortunate soul who had dared interrupt her. It seemed she would stand her ground after all; good for her, he thought.
"One of my greatest pet peeves is a person who steals the work of others without paying" he said languidly leaning against the bookcase.
"I'm going to pay for it! I just wanted to know what happened and it's none of your business anyways!" He was right, but it was a minor sin on her part. Why couldn't he just let it go? He wasn't the owner of the store and it wasn't like he wrote the damn thing.
"I'm making it my business. After all I wrote the series. If you must know, they die at the end" he said walking away having finished berating her.
Rei sat in the aisle stunned, but not for too long.
"You asshole! You pompous son of a bitch! What kind of lousy ending is that? I don't believe you're the author! You ruined the whole story!"
"What did you say?" He turned around and stared at her, surprised that she was still speaking after being so well berated.
"You heard me! I said that you suck at writing!" His eyebrows drew together and he scowled at the slur on his skill.
"Oh and I suppose you can do a better job!"
"I probably could! I'd never kill off the main characters! It's stupid!"
"It's original! They die together!"
"No it isn't!"
"Name one storyline like it!"
"Romeo and Juliet!"
"Anthony and Cleopatra!"
He scowled at her thwarting him.
"Don't compare my art to that trash!"
"That's exactly what this series is! Trash! And you spoiled the ending for me too! Jackass!"
"Well you wanted to know so badly since you claimed that you were going to pay for it that I decided to do you a favor, you ungrateful thieving twit!"
"You're a fake! A con artist!"
He angrily yanked out his wallet and pulled his driver's license out. She stared at it scowling and glanced at the cover of the book she was reading. Jadiete Hakumoru was emblazoned on the cover as well as his driver's license.
"Excuse me" said a man behind them. They whirled around to face him.
"What!" hissed Rei, her eyes narrowing into slits.
"You're being awfully loud and if you continue, I'm going to have to ask you to leave" said the owner of the store nervously.
He beat her to it.
"The lady and I were having a conversation; if that's such a problem then I'm sure I can leave. My name is Jadeite Hakumoro and I'm the author of several of the works which you sell in your shop. I can arrange for a stoppage of shipment to your store as well, which will happen if I'm thrown out. I don't take kindly to being interrupted, it's extremely rude."
"Ah well, sir. If you'll excuse me. I do apologize, just keep the noise down, that's all" he said beating a hasty retreat. They continued the abuse at their original level of volume.
"Even if you are the author, the series ending is still horrible."
"So you're saying you can make it better?"
"Alright then! Do it!"
"Make it better!"
"At a loss for words are we? You have quite a temper, Miss Bigmouth."
"My name is Rei Hino, not Miss Bigmouth you asshole! And I will make the series better!"
"Do it and I'll print it!"
"I can't draw, so it won't be fair!"
"You give me the storyline and I'll draw it to your specifications. You should learn how hard a manga author has to work in order to create a masterpiece! I doubt you have what it takes. It'll probably be an absolute waste of my time!"
"What time should I meet you then?"
"My, my! Quite bold aren't we Miss Hino? Meet me here at seven tonight and I'll take you to my studio from here!"
"You try anything funny and I'll beat you black and blue!"
"You don't seem very capable at beating anything black and blue, given that eye, so I wouldn't threaten anyone if I were you!" he snorted, walking away. The book went flying inches from his head and smacked against the far wall. He didn't even flinch; Rei stalked from the store and slammed the door shut.
Kunzite sat on the edge of the bed with his head in his hands. He practically had to drag her out of bed in order to get her to go with her friends. She was crushed and he had no idea how to handle this side of her because she didn't want to talk about it at length and he didn't know what he could do to make her feel better. He wasn't good at the silent support thing; he was a man of action. Well…sort of. Either way, this situation was out of his range of experience and he had been racking his brain in order to come up with an idea. His best one was to go and beat the men who auditioned her senseless. After all, he was a man of action. Sort of. He groaned. He was horrible at the emotional stuff. Maybe the others could help him. He looked up as she came in.
"Hey, It's at Usagi's place this Saturday. I can give you directions. Are you ready?"
"Yeah" he quietly getting up and grabbing his keys from the table. They scraped and jingled against the wood. Shoving them in his pocket, he caught up to her in the hallway. He tugged at her hand and she turned to him, her face hidden as she lowered it to the ground. He hugged her. It was all he could do. Slowly, she wrapped her arms around him.
"Thank you" she said gratefully.
"I'm not very good at this stuff."
"I can tell."
She laughed at his expression and briefly brushed her lips against his to soothe him. It was a relatively quiet drive. They didn't speak in the car, but it was a comfortable silence. He let her drive.
They lived in a very nice complex, he noted as he walked in the building. He was curious as to how Mamoru-san decorated his apartment and he was greeted with a pink living room, when he walked in. He took his shoes off and walked in, in order to better survey the disastrous décor. It was like a bad car wreck, he couldn't tear his eyes away.
"Hey Mamoru-san" said Minako greeting him with a hug.
"She's in the back getting ready" said Mamoru, answering the question in her eyes. She smiled.
"Thanks" she said taking off her shoes and walking towards the bedroom.
"Nice place" he said with a straight face as he eyed the pillows on the couch. Was that fur? He thought incredulously.
"Thanks, we just remodeled it" said Mamoru as he gestured for Kunzite to take a seat.
"Oh? Did you?" said Kunzite looking up at the ceiling; it too had not escaped from the color. Mamoru gave him a sharp look. Kunzite blinked at him innocently.
"You don't like it?"
"It's a little pink."
"Usagi did it."
"I can tell. It screams Tsukino-san."
"It was a compromise. I made her promise not to touch the rest of the place, if I let her have her way with the living room." Kunzite's lips twitched and he coughed.
"Would you like something to drink?"
"Ah, no. Thank you. So what was her inspiration?"
"I think it was sunset."
"Are you sure it wasn't Pepto-Bismol?" A cotton candy colored pillow was hurled at his head.
"I won't have you speak about the love of my life in such a way."
"I humbly apologize, Princeling." Another pillow headed towards his head.
"You should be careful about where you throw those. I might be allergic to pink fur; what unfortunate animal was it stolen from?"
"It's fake and I hope you get covered in rashes."
"So what do you think of the living room? Mina was telling me that she liked it" said Usagi as she and Minako walked into the living room, oblivious to all that had transpired.
"I think it's nice" said Kunzite placidly as he neatly arranged the thrown pillows on the couch.
"Oh! I knew you would!! Usagi, I've been dying to do something with the place, all that gold and white is so boring! Could you help me remodel it?" asked Mina excitedly. His head shot up from his task and the slightest bit of panic flashed across his face. Mamoru smiled.
"Mina" deadpanned Kunzite.
"I think it's a wonderful idea" said Mamoru chuckling.
"Do you?" said Kunzite dryly.
"Oh yes. I really do" he replied smiling.
"Oh I'd love to!!" said Usagi excitedly.
"I'm so excited!! This is going to be great!!" said Mina cheerfully.
"Oh! We could do it in orange and pink!!!" said Usagi.
"That's a great idea!!" exclaimed Kunzite excitedly. They turned to look at him with slightly surprised expressions. This was the most emotion they had ever seen out of him, but Mamoru knew that it stemmed from desperation.
"In fact, I think you should do this whole apartment first just to see how it would look and then we could go from there" he said smiling.
"Oh! Mamo-chan, could we please???" begged Usagi.
"Usako, honey, I don't know."
"Mamo-chan!" she said stamping her feet and pouting.
"Now, now. Let's give him some time to think it over. He'll do it if he knows what's good for him. We should go anyways; the others are probably waiting at the store" said Mina dragging Usagi away from Mamoru.
"You're right, Mina-chan. I'll see you later, Kunzite-san. Bye!" said Usagi waving.
"Goodbye Usagi-san" he replied. When the door shut, Mamoru turned on him.
"You bastard!!! Will you have me living in a Technicolor nightmare?!" he said cursing at Kunzite.
"I could ask you the same damn question!! 'I think it's a wonderful idea!' You're a cold-hearted bastard, Princeling!"
"You turned the tables! I hope you're satisfied!! So help me, if this apartment turns pink and orange, I'll make sure yours looks like a damn rainbow!! I won't suffer alone you cretin!"
"Just try it!!! I'll suggest that she adds purple!!!" Furry pink pillows flew through the air and both men were left glaring at each other.
"We can't fight. At this rate, she'll be putting bunnies on both our walls."
"You're kidding me."
"She was seriously considering it, when she did the living room."
"Alright, I'll bite. What's your plan?"
"We have to join forces. If not we'll both have to live in ugly apartments forever and the Old Fox will urinate himself with laughter."
"I'd like to see that."
"So would I, but the price we'd both have to pay would be too high."
"Alright then. You work on Minako and I'll work on Usagi. We'll come up with some excuses."
"Sounds good. What are you planning to do today?"
"Do you want to have our own get together at Minako's?"
"Do we have to name it anything cute?"
"I'll call the Old Fox."
"Stonewall!! I was just thinking of you."
"Yes, well I am a lawyer. They say it comes easily in my profession."
"How are you feeling?"
"Oh, I'm fine. Ami-san spent the night and she took care of me."
"I don't even want to know" said Kunzite shaking his head.
"No, no. Nothing like that, she just made sure I drank plenty of electrolytes and got some sleep, that's all."
"If you say so…"
"I do say so!"
"Are you up to anything today?"
"Sure, is Kino-san cooking?"
"Actually, I was thinking of ordering out or making it ourselves."
"Ah well, you can't get everything in life."
"No, that little Saturday ritual is strictly for the women. Kino-san will be with them. We've haven't been invited."
"We should start our own ritual then, since we're to be so horribly abandoned to our hungry fate."
"Mamoru-san and I agreed on that."
"Ah, Excellent! Should we christen our little gathering?"
"I'd rather not. Cute names and I don't mix."
"I think Stonewall is kind of cute."
"Screw you Old Fox."
"What time?" said Zoicite chuckling.
"It's perfect." Kunzite hung up and turned to Mamoru.
Mamoru was busying surveying Minako's apartment.
"It would be a shame if this place became orange and pink."
"It would be a shame if your place became pink. Oh, wait. It already is."
"Not completely! It can still be saved!"
"Thanks for the vote of confidence, Stonewall."
"No problem, Princeling."
"Are you suggesting that I have no backbone when it comes to Usagi?"
"I'm not suggesting it; I'm saying it."
"Damn you then."
"Don't be mad at me, you're the one who's living with the aspiring interior designer. It's your own fault you can't say no."
"I didn't see you speaking up!"
"She's too cute. I couldn't crush her by telling her that she has no taste."
"How do you think I feel?!"
"You're the one who's dating her; I have very little sympathy for you."
"No, it's rational."
The door bell rang.
"That was fast" said Kunzite turning to Mamoru with a surprised look on his face.
"It's not him" said Mamoru staring at the door.
"How do you know?"
"Just a feeling I have."
"Are your feelings usually right?"
"Yes. Now open the door. You don't want to keep our guest waiting. He's impatient."
Kunzite shot him an odd look and walked to the door. He opened it and stared. A man dressed in white had his back turned to the door and was impatiently taping his foot as he read something. He turned around with a sheaf of papers in his hands and Kunzite sucked in his breath. They stood for a moment staring at each other.
"Well aren't you going to invite me in?" said the man. Kunzite grimaced slightly. He had forgotten how sharp he could be. He stepped aside and let the man in.
"I'm looking for Minako Aino" he said looking at Mamoru and Kunzite.
"She isn't here" said Mamoru placing his forearms against the railing in order to better inspect the newcomer.
"I see." The man paused before saying, "Have I met either of you before?"
Mamoru and Kunzite exchanged smiles. Kunzite crossed his arms.
"I don't know. You look familiar though."
"Forget I asked. I'm sure it wasn't important or else I'd remember." Mamoru straightened slightly at his brusqueness. Kunzite blinked. Well then, he thought.
"I have a message to deliver. Tell her that she has been chosen to play the part of Akia Kumiko, in the upcoming movie. She auditioned for the part yesterday."
"I thought it went badly" said Kunzite.
"Yes, I apologize for that little incident. The director and I had a miscommunication. He rejected her when she auditioned. But when I saw her, I knew I had to have her."
"Oh?" said Kunzite a little too mildly.
"Yes. The character is a woman who is ahead of her time. She is very bold and Minako has her high-spiritedness. I knew she was perfect for the part. She is also very beautiful and will have a wide appeal among the audience."
"Yes, she is beautiful" said Kunzite placidly. Mamoru grinned at Kunzite's display of possessiveness.
"I don't have a taste for blondes. You have nothing to worry about."
"Good. I'm glad."
"I'm Mamoru Chiba, by the way" said Mamoru breaking the tension slightly.
"Jadiete Hakumoro" said the man reaching out to shake his hand. He froze and stared at Mamoru.
"I'm glad to have met you" said Mamoru.
"Yes" he said dizzily.
"Are you alright?" asked Kunzite as Jadiete steadied himself on the banister.
"I got dizzy suddenly. I'm sure it will pass."
"Would you like some tea?" asked Kunzite concerned.
"Yes. I would actually. I'm sorry to impose upon your hospitality."
"It's fine. I'm Kunzite Shikoku, by the way." They shook hands and Jadeite quickly released his hand before sitting on the steps dazed.
"I feel a little light headed. It's strange but I'm sure I've met you both before. You seem familiar to me." He shakily took off his shoes and stumbled slightly. Kunzite and Mamoru steadied him and helped him climb the stairs. He sat at the kitchen table and took a shaky deep breath.
"You look pale. I'm sure it's just a dizzy spell though" said Mamoru.
"I certainly hope it is. The director has been trying to undermine me on not just Minako's role. He would be elated if I became sick" he said rubbing his temples.
The doorbell rang. Mamoru and Kunzite glanced at each other. This would be interesting.
"I'll give you a break from answering doors" said Mamoru amused as he got up to open it. Kunzite thanked him and stared intently at Jadiete while he waited for the water to boil.
"What?" he said uncomfortably.
"I'm just trying to remember something."
"Yes. A nickname that I once gave to someone who reminded me of you."
"Some people call me Jade."
"That wasn't it. It begins with a 'P'."
"That's an odd name."
"It was. It was French. Ah, this is frustrating."
"Princeling, Stonewall! I'm up for Thai! Any opinions before I order?" said Zoicite walking in the house.
"Make yourself at home" said Kunzite faintly annoyed.
"I already have" retorted Zoicite walking into the kitchen. He stopped short and stared at Jadeite.
"I noticed" replied Kunzite.
"Who are you?" asked Zoicite staring at Jadeite. Jadeite scowled.
"You're rude" he said.
"So are you. It's why we argue."
"I've never argued with you!"
"Yes you have!"
"I don't even know who you are!"
"Well you seem familiar to me!"
"I still don't know who you are!"
"I'm Zoicite Alderton."
"I'm Jadeite Hakumoro."
"I don't like you" announced Jadeite dismissively.
"Same to you Pomplemousse" said Zoicite seating himself across from Jadeite.
"That's what it was! Pomplemousse!" said Kunzite snapping his fingers.
"Pomplemousse?" asked Mamoru seating himself slowly at the kitchen table.
"It means grapefruit in French" explained Zoicite.
"I know but, Pomplemousse?" said Mamoru.
"It sounds snobby and rude" said Kunzite.
"I'm not snobby and rude!" snapped Jadeite.
"You know, you're right it does" said Mamoru.
"That's why I said it."
"I'm not a Pomplemousse!!" said Jadeite.
"I call them how I see them, Pomplemousse."
"Shut up, Old Fox" growled Jadeite. He blinked.
The water boiled as the kitchen suddenly became silent.
"Green tea okay?" asked Kunzite getting up and surveying the pantry.
"Yes, that's fine" said Jadeite frowning.
"What's wrong Pomplemousse?" asked Zoicite.
"Don't call me that."
"It's what you are" he replied nonplussed.
Jadeite sighed and thanked Kunzite for the tea. They all stared at him, while he drank his tea, as if he were something strange and fascinating.
"What?" he snapped.
"You remind us of someone" said Mamoru amused.
"Well you all seem oddly familiar."
"So do you" said Kunzite.
"Want to be friends?" smirked Zoicite.
"You'll come around" he said.
"Don't be a bastard, Pomplemousse" said Zoicite. Mamoru chuckled.
"It's rude to be on such familiar terms Alderton-san. I barely know you."
"What happened to Old Fox?"
"It was lapse on my part; it won't happen again."
"You hear that Princeling?"
"Hmm" said Mamoru.
"You're acting rather smug, Chiba-san."
"What makes you think so, Hakumoro-san?"
"I can tell by the expression on your face."
"How is it that you're able to read me so well? After all we barely know each other."
"If I knew that I wouldn't be here!"
"So you're saying that you're here out of curiosity?" queried Kunzite.
"Ha, Pomplemousse!" exclaimed Zoicite in good spirits.
"I don't like you."
"You'll come around."
They sat comfortably or as comfortably as they could. This fourth addition to their group threw things into slight chaos. But Kunzite welcomed it; after all the Pomplemousse brought very good news. Minako would be floating on nine cloud nine for weeks; he couldn't wait to tell her. He loved to see her smile.
"I think I want Lebanese" said Mamoru suddenly.
"What? Lebanese? Are you out of your mind?" said Zoicite staring at him.
"Have you had it before? I think it's really good actually."
"No, I haven't and I don't want any Lebanese. I want Thai."
"You're acting like a spoiled brat. It's giving me a headache" said Jadeite angrily.
"Who asked your opinion! Drink your tea, Pomplemousse!"
"Don't call me that you frizzled brat!"
"Now children" said Kunzite.
Jadiete and Zoicite scowled at each other.
"I want Lebanese. I get my way because I'm royal."
"I'm quite legitimate thank you very much."
"I want Lebanese too."
"You always side with him, Stonewall!"
"That's because I know on which side the bread is buttered."
"It's why I'm the leader of this outfit."
The leader, thought Jadeite. His eyes slid over to where Mamoru sat smiling. Their eyes met and Jadeite looked away. Princeling, he thought suddenly nervous. He got up hastily.
"I have to go. Thank you for the tea, Shikoku-san" he said walking towards the door.
"Come back with a better attitude next time Pomplemousse" said Zoicite as he put his feet on the dinner table.
"Don't do that! This isn't your fucking office!" snapped Kunzite. Zoicite smirked.
"Your feet smell" said Mamoru slyly.
"They do not!!!" protested Zoicite as he scowled and took them off the table.
"Make sure you wipe the area down with bleach or a strong disinfectant. Fungus has a tendency to spread" said Jadeite as Kunzite held the door open for him.
"Thank you for your sound advice Hakumoro-san. I will be sure to follow it."
"My Feet Do Not Smell!!!"
"There's no need to scream it to the world" said Mamoru soothingly.
Jadeite smirked at Kunzite as he turned away.
"I'll be seeing you around" said Kunzite quietly.
"What makes you so sure?" he responded arrogantly glancing over his shoulder at Kunzite's form.
Kunzite gave him a small smile and shut the front door. Jadeite stood there for a minute slightly unsettled before walking away.
"Alright. You heard Hakumoro-san. We need bleach" said Kunzite walking up the few steps to the kitchen.
"What!!" said Zoicite mortified.
Mamoru laughed at his expression as he watched Kunzite rummage under the kitchen sink.
"I can't believe that you'd take Pomplemousse's advice!" said Zoicite pouting. Kunzite pulled out the 409, two plastic grocery bags, paper towels, and bright yellow gloves.
"I can't believe you're wearing those gloves. You look like someone's mother; you're missing the apron" said Zoicite disdainfully.
"Shut up, Old Fox and put these grocery bags on your feet. I won't have you spreading your fungal infection all over the house when ever you walk."
"My feet don't smell you bastard! Smell it for yourself!" said Zoicite raising his foot.
"I'm not smelling your foot. Get it out of my face" said Kunzite, holding out the bottle of 409 threateningly.
"What are you going to do? Spray me?"
Zoicite scowled and tied the bags around his feet, as Kunzite cleaned the table.
"I can't believe your taking his word over mine."
"I'm the prince."
"Screw you, Princeling."
"He's the prince" said Kunzite.
"If he told you to jump off a bridge, would you do it?" asked Zoicite.
"Yes, he would" said Mamoru leaning back to let Kunzite clean.
"Yes, I would, right after I pushed him off."
Mamoru smiled wistfully.
"If I remember correctly, you did that once" said Mamoru grinning.
Kunzite paused and smiled faintly.
"I think I did, didn't I?" he said peeling off the yellow gloves.
"The water was freezing" said Zoicite chuckling.
"It was dead winter and I shoved you in" said Kunzite smiling.
"Well, both ends of the bridge were blocked by the enemy. So I commanded you to jump. If I remember correctly, you wanted to stand your ground and fight."
"So I said, 'After you, Princeling' and pushed you in. I can still remember you screaming."
"He practically turned blue when he hit the water" said Zoicite laughing fondly. Zoicite stretched himself out along the table.
"This is weird" he said cradling his head in his arms.
"What? The fumes from the 409?" asked Mamoru dryly.
"Yes. That and the fact that we remember some of what happened back then."
"It's in pieces and fuzzy. Its phrases, words, and some clear images. It's all mixed up and jumbled with the memories I have now. It's odd feeling like I have two mothers. They are both so different and they both love me" said Kunzite quietly.
"Sometimes, I wake up at night and I forget where I am. For just a second, I don't recognize my room. I think we all have this in some form or another" said Mamoru soberly.
"When I passed out at the courthouse, I heard a female voice telling me that demons lived on the moon. I think she was trying to convince me not to go to the moon. It doesn't make any sense" said Zoicite sighing. They both eyeballed Mamoru.
"You know more than us don't you?" said Kunzite.
"Tell us Princeling" said Zoicite.
Mamoru smiled, "Keep remembering; it'll all come to you."
They both glared at him and he continued to smile completely unfazed by it all.
"So Lebanese?" he said cheerfully.
"Thai!" argued Zoicite.
Mamoru got up and picked up the phone. "I'm ordering Lebanese" he said calmly. Zoicite scowled at him. "You always get your way" he said wrinkling his eyebrows and pouting.
"I'm the prince, so I'm ordering Lebanese."
"Just get used to it" said Kunzite.
"Make sure its beef" said Zoicite sighing resignedly.
"I want Thai."
They stood in the middle of the dairy section of the store debating what to have for dinner. Usagi rubbed her arms to warm them a little. She hated getting goose bumps and she was getting a chill from being so close to the yogurt section.
"I'm in the mood for pupusas."
They all turned to stare at Makoto.
"Too exotic sounding" proclaimed Rei.
"They're really good actually; I had some the other night."
"What do you want Usagi?" asked Ami before Makoto and Rei got into an argument about the exoticness of pupusas.
"Mmmm. Some chocolate ice cream would be amazing" she said as she stared longingly at the frozen food section nearby.
"For dinner, not dessert, Meatball Head" sighed Rei.
"Mexican" said decisively Usagi.
"Those tacos were amazing" said Mina as her stomach growled.
"I've never had Mexican before" said Ami.
"Is Mexican okay with you, Rei?" asked Makoto, knowing full well that Rei would complain if her opinion wasn't asked.
"Fine. Whatever. I'm starved."
"Okay, Mexican it is" said Makoto flipping through the giant recipe book she always carried for the occasion. She made a list:
Get taco shells.
Get onions and cilantro.
Get ground beef.
Get chili powder, salt, black pepper, paprika, and all purpose seasoning.
"I have salt and pepper back at the house. I'm not completely lost when it comes to cooking" said Usagi.
"You mean Mamoru isn't completely lost when comes to cooking" giggled Mina as she watched Makoto cross off the two items from the list.
Get chicken breast.
Get soft tortillas.
Get grated mozzarella cheese.
"Tequila?" queried Rei raising an eyebrow.
"For seasoning purposes only" said Makoto firmly.
Ami snorted faintly.
"Yeah, right. Seasoning" giggled Minako.
"Are the limes for seasoning purposes only?" asked Usagi mischievously.
"Of course" replied Makoto nonplussed.
"Is that everything?" asked Ami.
"Yeah" said Makoto checking the book.
"You're missing the Hagen Daas Mayan Chocolate Ice Cream" said Usagi firmly. Makoto sighed and added it to the list.
15. Get Hagen Daas Mayan Chocolate Ice Cream.
"Okay let's do our own personal shopping and then we'll meet here in twenty minutes to get the ingredients for the meal" said Mina heading off to the frozen food section for some quick TV dinners. They separated and Makoto headed for the cereal aisle. She was running low on the cinnamon flavored Chex, which was her favorite. Scanning the brightly colored boxes, she passed a crying toddler and her father, who trying to frantically to calm her. Makoto smiled at the faces that he was pulling to make his child laugh. I want to marry someone like that, she thought idly. She stared at the cereals.
"Aww, crap!" she exclaimed as she spotted the empty space where her favorite cereal was supposed to be. She took the time to pout as she chose the rice Chex instead. She sighed as she dumped the box despondently into her cart. What else do I need?, she thought to herself. She glanced at her own personal list and headed towards the meat department.
"Yoohooo!!! Makoto darling!!!"
Makoto froze. She knew that voice very well. It was Mina and she was up to something and it most likely involved her. If she didn't turn back into the aisle that Mina was calling her from, she would increase the volume of her voice and pout for days afterwards. Makoto groaned and backed up her cart to see what in the world Mina wanted from her.
"Shit. Mina!" she cursed under her breath. Mina was waving and grinning. Beside her, was the flour stealing baker, who owned the Jade Tree Bakery.
"I've been dying to introduce you two! She makes those fabulous cookies I was telling you about earlier" Minako was saying as Makoto pulled up beside them.
"Really?" said Nephrite looking slightly amused.
"Makoto darling, have you met before?" asked Minako sweetly. Makoto gripped the handlebar of her cart, since she obviously couldn't wring Mina's neck in public.
"Mina! You know damn well that we already have!"
"Oh goodness me! The flour thing! It slipped my mind! Well, I'll leave you two to catch up! Tah-Tah, darling!" she chirped as she waltzed off with her shopping cart.
"Hi" she drawled.
"Hello" he said nonplussed, "You aren't still bitter about the flour thing are you?"
"No" she responded coolly, "I'm bitter about the fact that you happen to have my favorite brand of cereal in your cart, when there weren't any left when I checked."
"Ah, I see" he said amused as he stared into her cart at the lone box of Rice Chex.
"Well if it's so important to you, I can give it you."
"No, that's okay. I'll be fine" she said waving off his offer.
"I'm trying to be the gentleman here. Especially since I took the last box."
"So! It was you!" she said scowling at him.
He laughed and nodded his head.
"Guilty as charged" he said handing her the box. She snatched it from him, tossed it into her cart, and walked off indignantly. He chuckled as he watched her go.
"Bastard! Ooo!" she grunted, frustrated as she headed to get some salmon. Minako caught up to her as she was picking out a likely looking package of salmon for Sunday's dinner.
"Did you get his number?" she asked eagerly.
"No! I hate him!" she snapped at Minako.
"Why?" Minako asked curiously.
"He pisses me off! He's always taking what I want! He always gets there first!"
"Always? You've only seen him like twice."
"Every time, I see him. The first time it was the flour. This time he took the last box of Cinnamon Chex!"
"Ahh, that's your favorite cereal."
"Yes!" she said sighing.
"But he's cute."
"Yeah" she said turning a little pink.
"And he's taller than you."
"I know that."
"And you got your cereal" she said pointing at the cart.
"He gave it to me."
"That's so sweet!"
Makoto shook her head. "I guess. It's still annoying though."
"There he is! I'm waving!"
"Mina! Don't! Ahh…I hate you Aino Minako" said Makoto as she waved along with Minako. Kami, this is embarrassing. Minako's so obvious, she thought as he smiled and waved back at them. Usagi sped around the corner and crashed her cart into his. Metal grated against metal and with a groaned the cart turned over and spilled his groceries into the aisle. They stopped waving.
"Ooohh" said Minako wincing.
"Gomen! Makoto can we have your cookies tonight? Please!" shouted Usagi across the store as she helped him pick his groceries up off the floor. A surprised look flashed across his face and he looked over at where Makoto was standing with a package of salmon in her hand. Several customers stopped to watch the scene.
"Ouch" said Minako.
"Usagi" said Makoto sighing.
"She says okay!" shouted Minako back. Several more customers stopped to look at them.
"Yay! Thank you, Makoto! You're the best! Gomen! Gomen!"
"Its okay" they heard him say.
"Minako, I want to die."
"I think he likes you" said Minako. Makoto sighed and placed the salmon in her cart. Oh, the embarrassment, she thought as the bystanders walked off.
"I think he likes you!" said Usagi as she brought her cart to a screeching halt in front of theirs.
"Would you two stop it! He does not!" she protested.
"He asked me if I knew you" continued Usagi.
"He's cute" said Minako.
"He's very cute" reiterated Usagi.
"You should ask him for some baking tips" giggled Minako.
"Let me shop in peace!"
"Alright, but think it over. I see a very cute couple forming in the future. Let's go cookie monster" said Minako rushinging away.
"I think V-babe's right. Don't forget the cookies!" said Usagi crashing her cart into another customer's.
"Gomen!" she said blushing. Makoto sighed as she went to where the produce was located to find some fruit. She stopped in another aisle and picked up the ingredients for the cookies. At least there's flour on the shelf, she thought grabbing a bag. She spotted Ami and walked over to where she was.
"I heard about what happened over the communicator. Minako pointed him out to me as he walked out with his groceries" said Ami picking out ripe lychee from a bin. Makoto sighed, grabbed a plastic bag, and started to pick out the fruit with her.
"You too?" she sighing as she filled her bag.
"Do whatever makes you happy" said Ami as she inspected a lychee.
"Thanks. Ami-chan" said Makoto. Ami-chan smiled up at her, her expression dancing.
"He's cute though."
"I know that!"
Ami laughed softly.
"I'm just teasing you" she said fondly.
"So how's Zoicite-san?"
"I'm just teasing you" mocked Makoto.
They laughed and silently continued at their task. After a moment, she quietly spoke.
"We're dating now."
"Oh! Ami-chan, that's wonderful."
"Yes, it's nice. I can sort of see why Minako's so in love with romance."
"Is he romantic?"
"Oh, no. Not in a cliché way. Thank goodness."
"No candles or rose petals?"
"Not one. And it's just the way I prefer it. He's sweet and genuine and I know he cares for me. Besides, it's only been official for several days now."
"How long have you two known each other?"
"Oh I know. It's insanity. It isn't common sense. It's the same with Minako and Kunzite-san. They've known each other for such a short time as well. It's so odd, that I feel so comfortable with him. I'm worried you know. That it won't last, because it's all going so quickly" she said tying off the bag and weighing it.
"But you two are just dating. It hasn't reached a boyfriend/girlfriend level has it? Mina's commitment is more serious because they've decided to live together. You two haven't made any drastic decisions like that have you?"
"No, we haven't. Still, I always wait until I get to know a person before I dive in, like this."
"You two will be fine. Both of you are intelligent, level-headed human beings. Minako can be a little you know…"
"Flighty?" answered Ami smiling.
"Yeah, but she knows what she's doing. She always does."
"Yeah…that's our fearless leader" she replied thoughtfully as she inspected some bananas. Makoto smiled as she spotted Minako.
"I have to go pick up a few more things. I'll see you soon."
"Okay" said Ami as she moved off to inspect the oranges.
Jadeite frowned as he chopped the onions for the stew he was making. Princeling, Stonewall, and Old Fox. The names were so familiar to him like he had used them once everyday. He paused in his slicing, trembling slightly. Why was he so drawn to them? He desperately wanted to stay, to take part in the bickering as if it was a ritual almost. He should remember. If it was important, I would have remembered. Right? He thought adding the onions to the slow cooker. It didn't really make sense. He had gotten a severe headache right after he left. It had gotten so bad that he had to pull over and park. He had sat for at least an hour with his head against the steering wheel, shaking. He still was feeling slightly nauseous as a side effect. Maybe I should cancel with Hino-san, he thought. He smiled slightly at the thought of her display of temper back at the bookstore. It was quite childish of her throwing the book like that, amusing actually. He probably shouldn't have gone off on her like that either, but he couldn't help it. He hated people who read his things without paying. He also hated fanfiction writers, which was why he killed off his main characters. The pairings they created were so odd and they took gross liberties with the characterization. He wondered what sort of plot she would come up with. He normally didn't leave any holes in his stories, so she would be hard pressed to come up with a way to revive the dead heroes. She hasn't even finished reading the book, he thought amused. She was about half way through when he interrupted her. He glanced at the time; if he didn't hurry, he would be late in picking her up. He peeled the carrots, cut them, added the rest of ingredients, grabbed his keys, and went to go pick her up. We shall see what she's made of, he thought smugly.
Music filtered from the living room and into the kitchen as the sound of chopping filled the air. They talked softly of everything that had come to pass. The kitchen had limited room yet they delicately danced around one another as Makoto squeezed passed Usagi and Rei to get to the fridge.
"How's work Makoto?" asked Usagi worriedly. She had noticed that Makoto had been a little wilted as of late.
"It's really tiring. I never have to time to do anything; afterwards, all I do is sleep. I have some vacation time coming up soon though."
"Any cute rich guys?" asked Minako as she mixed the ground beef and the seasonings.
"No. They're all mostly spoiled. Most of the members are old too."
"Any leads on a job in the kitchens?" asked Ami. She knew what the answer would probably be.
Makoto sighed despondently.
"No" she said slightly discouraged. She worked for one of the most prestigious country clubs in Japan. When she had applied for work, the manager had informed her that they needed servers not cooks. On her lunch breaks, however, she was able to go into the kitchens and watch them prepare for the dinner hour. She picked up on a lot of useful tips and she realized that a lot more work went into running a kitchen then she originally thought. The pay was extremely lucrative and she wanted to save up enough to go to cooking school. From there, she could either open up her own business or try again for work in the kitchens. The main reason she wasn't hired was because of her lack of experience. It was rather disheartening. The chef, a man with a powerful presence and a loud booming voice, intimidated her slightly. She was still relatively new so she decided to wait. In the meantime, being a waitress was stressful. You had to please an enormous amount of people and serve them their food with perfect timing. She had at least eight or nine tables in any given day. If they complained to the maitre d' she could be fired. At the end of the night, after all the rushing around, her body ached horribly. But it would all be worth it once she went to culinary school. She was aiming for the top culinary arts school in Japan, which unfortunately cost an exorbitant amount of money. But once she graduated, she would be accepted anywhere.
"Don't worry, you'll find a way to get what you want" said Rei bumping her with her left hip playfully.
Makoto smiled. "I know. I always do."
They continued to chat as the food cooked about the challenges that they faced and their hopes for the future. When the food was devoured, Rei casually announced,
"I have to go."
"So soon?" pouted Usagi.
"I have somewhere to go. I'm sorry guys" she said softly smiling. They said their goodbyes and Makoto bundled her off with some leftovers, which Rei refused for a full five minutes until she gave up and left with the plate.
"I can drive you if you want" said Makoto as she opened the door for Rei.
"Ah! No! That's okay!" said Rei hastily spinning around to face her.
"Hot date?" teased Minako cheerfully from the doorway.
Rei scowled and quickly walked away. They watched her go.
"She's up to something! Let's follow her!" proclaimed Minako once Rei was out of earshot.
"So did you get the part in the movie?" asked Makoto, hastily changing the subject.
Minako froze, startled, and looked away.
"Oh, Mina…" said Usagi soothingly, as her tears began to fall. The mischievous mood was broken and they spent the rest of the day, slowly extracting the story from her, bit by bit.
Rei's heels clicked on the pavement and she felt rather silly. She was after all, carrying a plate of tacos, rice, and beans. She didn't want him to think that she had gone through the trouble of preparing a meal for him. The plate would make for an awkward conversation piece to say the least. She reached the storefront just as a car pulled up to the curb. At least her timing was perfect. The sound of the window rolling down reach her ears and his voice floated over to her.
She hesitated. Damn it. She should have told the others where she was going. If she disappeared, then they would have no idea where she was. To add to her dilemma, Ami still had her mace. She steeled herself and walked over to the car. She was a sailor scout. If he touched her, she would maim him. She knew enough self-defense to do that. Makoto insisted on teaching her, because she rode the bus at all times of the day. "It's not that I don't you trust you. It's just that I don't trust the rest of the world" she had proclaimed. She had then proceeded to show her several moves that were guaranteed to cause her attacker enormous amounts of pain. Rei would have to rely on this. She opened the door and settled herself in the car. He chuckled as she buckled her seatbelt.
"I almost thought you weren't coming" he said as he pulled away from the curb.
"I almost didn't."
"Oh? Pray tell, what changed your mind?" he asked as he joined the evening Tokyo traffic.
"The comforting fact that I can break your arm if you touch me."
He glanced over her and gave her a cool, bored look. She returned the favor with equal equanimity. He isn't fazed by me. Interesting, she thought.
"Have you eaten? I hope you don't expect me to feed you."
She stiffened in distaste.
"I already ate and I would never expect anything from you."
"My, my. So vehement. How amusing."
She glared fixedly at him.
"Do I amuse you?"
"Yes. You do. Otherwise, you wouldn't be sitting in my vehicle. I don't believe in wasting time, energy, or gas."
She fell silent as she digested this thought. She wasn't sure how to approach this. Most people she met found her frightening, awe-inspiring, or intimidating in the beginning. No one found her amusing right off the bat. Well everyone, except for Kaidou-san. She winced at this thought. He hadn't crossed her mind for ages. She frowned at the parallel. This didn't bode well. There were no such things as coincidences. She must watch herself around this man.
"Have you given the plot any thought?"
"I haven't had time so far. I've been busy."
He sighed disgustedly and Rei bristled at his attitude. They pulled up to a gate and he leaned out the window to punch in a code. The gate opened and they drove in into the apartment complex. There was a large fountain at the front of complex; she tried not to look surprised as he drove to the front and valet his car. The doorman let them in and they walked to the front desk.
"Good evening! Is there any mail for me?" he asked the woman at the front desk
"Let me see. Yes there is. Fan mail and some bills, I should think. Here you are" said the clerk, handing him a large stack of mail.
"Thank you. By the way, this is Hino Rei, she'll be a constant visitor here. Please let the doorman know to let her in if she's ever on the premises" he said rifling through his mail.
"I'll be sure to do that."
"Thank you" said Jadeite smiling.
"A constant visitor?" asked Rei as they stepped into the mirrored elevator. She could see her reflection in the burnished metal; she didn't look cross enough. Rei scowled. There. Much better.
"One doesn't write an excellent storyline in a night, Hino-san. I except it to be of excellent caliber before I publish anything connected to me. If its garbage it'll go in the trash."
"Don't ever think that I would ever put my name on something that isn't less than outstanding. I wasn't planning on finishing the storyline in one night either! I was merely reflecting upon how unseemly it is for me to be a constant visitor to your apartment. I don't want anyone drawing conclusions."
"I don't have control over the opinions of others. People will always speculate. However, she is a very discreet woman because she wants to keep her job. There are many well-known people residing here. So far no leaks to the media have come from this building. But if you ever feel that the media pressure is too much for you, you can always quit. I won't even hold it against you. Not many can handle media attention."
She frowned. He was baiting her. That was two challenges in one day. Interesting.
"I'm not as weak as you think I am" she declared as the doors opened with a soft ding.
"I never implied that you were weak" he said coolly as he stepped out of the elevator.
She blinked as she walked into the hallway. There were two doors on this floor which meant that his apartment…
"My apartment is rather large, so please make yourself at home. You can choose whatever spot that would best help give you inspiration. I often find the window seat to be the best place" he said as he unlocked the door. She walked in and barely managed to stifle her gasp of surprise. It was, as Minako might say, gianormous. It might actually be bigger than Haruka and Michiru's place, she thought as she took off her shoes. She gingerly sat on the couch. Jadeite walked off into the recesses of the apartment. Maybe I should call it the Abyss, she thought amused. After several minutes, he returned with a notepad, a pencil, and a big eraser.
"You'll need it. Trust me" he chuckling at her expression when she saw the size of the eraser.
She glared at him.
"I don't plan on making too many mistakes."
"Then your work will be garbage" he retorted.
He handed her the materials and gestured airily.
"Go to it, Miss Hino. Explore the apartment and find a place to work that is suitable for your needs. If you need the books for reference, then you can find them in the library. I'll be in the kitchen eating if you need to find me. From there, I should be in the apartment office. Come look for me if want any help. Here, I'll take your jacket. Do you want me to refrigerate that plate of food for you?" he asked eyeing the aluminum wrapped plate.
"Yes, please" she said gratefully as she handed him the plate of tacos and took off her jacket.
"What is it?"
"I see. You didn't make them yourself."
"No I didn't. What makes you say that?"
"Women like you can't cook."
"You're too busy matching an outfit in front of the mirror, to be bothered with learning how to cook complicated dishes."
"There's nothing wrong with that!"
"No, I suppose there isn't" he said slightly amused.
"Do you know how to cook?" she challenged.
"Unlike you, I am a single, lone bachelor. I hate eating out because of the media hounds and the crowds. I have no friends and no girlfriend to depend upon for my meals. Cooking, for me, is a matter of basic survival. Unlike you, I can cook anything and I can do it well, Hino-san" he said walking towards the kitchen. She glared at his back. What a bastard, she thought annoyed.
Sighing resignedly, she got up from the couch to better survey the area. The kitchen was behind her and she decided that working there would be out of the question, since the monster would be there. She decided to go deeper into the beast's den; if he trapped her in a room with lustful intentions, she could break his arm. Walking into the hallway she began to open doors. Closet. Gym. She froze. A gym? She couldn't imagine him using the gym. I wonder he if runs in a suit. The thought of him running in cufflinks was too much. With a small laugh, she closed the door and continued her inspection. Library. She frowned. It didn't look comfortable in here. She never studied well at her old library, despite the mandatory study period spent there. Ami would have fallen in love with this place. She decided to eschew the library. Closet. Office. She gasped disgusted. How could any work in this mess!! She thought startled. There were drawings and papers strewn everywhere. Stacks of mail sat precariously on the desk. The large trash can was overflowing with crumpled papers. He had a tilted desk facing a window. She quickly shut the door, completely horrified. She hated messiness. Just knowing that that room existed made her twitch. She suppressed the urge to grab a broom and clean. He would probably throw a fit if she touched anything. She went to the next room. Closet. How many closets did this man have? Office. She froze. What was his problem? This office was even more disgusting. At least you could see the carpet in the other one. She slammed the door shut. How he expected her to find a workspace was beyond her. She stalked into the kitchen with ready ammunition. She was going to give him a piece of her mind. The conditions of his apartment were horrific; how anyone could work in such a space was beyond her. He turned around at her entrance with a plate in his hand. Her eyes narrowed and she flushed with anger. Coolly, he took a large bite of Makoto's taco. Crunch. He slowly and deliberately chewed. Munch. Munch.
She set down the writing materials, grabbed the salt shaker on the table, and threw it at his face with all her might. He quickly side stepped the hurtling object and it exploded against the wall. Unconcernedly, he squeezed a lime over her food, took a pinch of salt from the mound on the counter, and sprinkled it liberally over the plate.
"I can't believe you! You filthy creature!"
Ignoring her, he licked his fingers and picked up the last taco.
"How anyone can live in this mess is beyond me!"
Crunch. Munch. Munch.
"And you're eating my food!!! Without asking me!!!"
"They're very good. What's the name of the person who made this? There's tequila in this isn't there? Ingenious." he said, taking another bite.
She sighed exasperated and put her hands on her hips.
"I couldn't help myself. I ate one and I had to have another. I do apologize" he said opening a drawer and taking out a fork. He started on the rice and black beans.
"Pig!" she snapped angrily.
"Quite. Now what were you saying about my mess?"
"Your office is filthy!"
"How many do you have!"
"I every time I start a new series. I use a room. I can't start my work in a messy place. I'm going to run out of room shortly. I suppose I could always rent out the apartment across from me. Did she use cumin seed for the black beans? It gives it a very rich flavor. Delicious."
"I have no idea what she used. I don't know how you expect me to work in this apartment."
"I don't expect you to work in those offices. If you had looked further instead of destroying my salt shaker you would have seen that there are several rooms that are more than adequate for your usage. Now my poor pepper shaker is without his partner. You should apologize to it" he said smugly as he scraped the plate clean.
She quickly snatched the pepper shaker and threw it against the cabinet above his head. It shattered; a cloud of glass and pepper rained upon him. She stalked off and he sneezed explosively.
"Hino-san!" he wheezed as he shook pepper and glass out of his hair. His eyes began to water and he sneezed loudly several times in row. She slammed the door behind her and she smiled slightly as she heard several more sneezes. He shouldn't eat other people's food. It was only fair. After all, those tacos were good. But no matter. She could learn how cook them herself. How hard could it be? She started back down the hallway and opened another door. Messy office. Bathroom. Messy office. She opened the door to the master bedroom. Pausing, she gripped the knob. Minako's biggest worst habit had rubbed off on her. It came from being in close contact with her all the time. Over time, they started to pick up each other's little habits and phrases. She stifled the urge to go snooping for incriminating information. Besides, she had learned over time that snooping was best done with another person. Maybe one day, she and Minako would go through his things and find something embarrassing that they could both be smug about whenever they saw him. She sighed and shut the door with a small thump. The sound of sneezing came from the kitchen and her heart sped up slightly. He was coming out of the kitchen possibly to go to his office. That was close. He had he caught her in his room…well, it would have been awkward. The next room was much better. It looked like a sun room. There was warm lighting and a cushioned bay window where she could sit and work. Perfect. She sat in the window that overlooked the city and frowned as she stared at her pad. Ideas. She needed ideas. She wanted at least one good one before she left. It was already eight-thirty and she wanted to leave by ten o' clock, which was a fairly decent hour to leave. Any later, and her grandfather would be slightly worried. I hope he had something decent to eat, she thought. Knowing him, it would probably be take-out. He was such a child sometimes. Ideas. Hmm.
Forty-five minutes later, she was still at a loss and getting more frustrated by the second. How did he come up with ideas? She decided to ask him. He would be able to help her hopefully. Of course, her pride would be at stake here. He wouldn't let her off lightly. She steeled herself anyway; this was important to her. She didn't know why though. She wanted the characters to be happy; they had gone through so much together. They had been separated and reunited, only to die in each others arms at the very end. It was a very cheap way to die, she thought. She listened at the doors until she heard the faint scratching sound of a pen. He's probably drawing. I shouldn't disturb him, she thought. She knocked anyways.
She opened the door and immediately stepped on several pieces of paper. She wrinkled her nose in distaste at the mess. She was starting to itch again. Ami-chan would have thrown a fit and Mako-chan would have knocked him unconscious and cleaned anyway. Maybe she could enlist their help later on, she thought conspiring.
"Ah, if it isn't the lovely Hino-san, destroyer of my sinuses. Do come in. Try not to step on anything; I might use these drawings for an art book compilation later on. Have you come up with anything yet? No?" he said smugly. His eyes were red and puffy from the assault of the pepper on his senses.
She gripped the pen and shifted her weight slightly.
"I need help", she said unhappily. He laughed. She scowled.
"Don't do that. You'll get wrinkly faster" he chided.
She refrained from telling him that she would stop aging in several years. He didn't need to know about Crystal Tokyo. It would be nice to see the look on his face when he saw the Crystal Palace and the talking cats. He didn't seem like the type who surprised easily. She should bring Artemis and Luna to visit some day. Well, maybe not Luna.
"So you need my help. Well, let's see what you have so far" he said holding out his hand for pad of paper. She blinked when she saw his ink stained hand. Apparently, he had been busy. She showed the pad to him. He scowled.
"You've got to be kidding" he said disbelievingly when he saw the blank paper.
"Don't do that. You'll get wrinkly faster" she said mockingly.
"You have no imagination."
"Excuse me?" she said huffily.
"Hmm. Allow me to correct myself. You do have an imagination. It takes imagination to throw a pepper shake at the cabinet so that it breaks over my face and into my eyes. However your imagination is displaced and channeled towards violence. We'll have to rectify that."
"My imagination is not channeled towards violence!!"
Pause. He laughed.
"If you say so, Hino-san."
"So how do I come up with ideas?"
"You need inspiration, a muse."
"Okay" she said turning away frustrated.
"Wait a minute now. I'm not finished. What inspires you Hino-san?"
She paused and blinked.
"What do you like to do for fun?"
"Read manga" she said turning pink.
"In terms of creating. What do you create?"
"Peace? Really? I would have pinned you for violence" he said snickering.
"Sometimes you need violence to create peace" she said loftily.
"Alright then what inspires you to create violence?"
"I'm not violent!"
"What else do you create then?"
"Tch. There's your problem. You don't create enough things in your life. Come with me."
He got up and carefully walked towards the door, trying not to step on anything. She followed him out into the hallway and they walked to a room. He opened the door and they stepped inside a large room with windows. It was dark and the only light came from moon. The room was used for painting she could tell that much by the smell. There were several canvases hanging and she could smell the paint.
"This is where I go when I have a writer's block."
He snapped on a light that was attached to a canvas. The warm yellow glow glinted off his hair and his light blue eyes regarded her with a serious expression.
Slowly, she approached the canvas and eyed it warily. He smirked softly.
"It won't bite you."
With a loud scrape, he dragged two stools over to the canvas.
She scooted herself onto the stool and curled her sock covered feet over the bottom bar of the stool. In the background, she could hear him readying something and the sound of water pouring reached her ears.
"We'll start with line drawing and then with paint" he said as he walked over with charcoal, paint brushes, a palette, and a plastic pitcher filled with water. He placed it all on a small table and dragged it over.
"So how is this supposed to help me come up with ideas for a story?" she asked dryly.
"Writing isn't just words on paper. It's the images that you create in your mind. You have to start by releasing your imagination towards art and not violence."
"I'm not violent!"
"Tell that to my sinuses and my salt shaker. You also threw a book at my head today, in case you forgot. You have tendency to use projectile violence it seems" he said laughing.
She rolled her eyes at the poor joke.
"Here" he said handing her the charcoal and hopping onto the stool. She shied slightly away at his nearness.
"What do you like?" he asked her, staring at her intently with folded arms.
"I like ravens."
"Hot summer days."
"Too abstract for this purpose"
"Sakura blossoms, pink haired children, ice cream, Tarot cards, Casblanca lilies…"
"Did you say pink haired children?"
"Yes" she said challenging him to say something. He held up his hands in a sign of surrender.
"Let's do the last one."
He pointed at the canvas.
"I can't draw."
She bit her lip and pensively stared at the blank canvas. What if she made a mistake?
He leaned into her and enfolded his hand in hers. Startled, she froze and her heart thumped painfully against her chest as his face loomed closer.
"Look at the canvas. Not at me" he teased softly. She flushed slightly and swallowed as she turned to watch him draw out a line. He placed the palm of his hand on the edge of her stool so he wouldn't fall over. He leaned in closer to her and the canvas; he smelled slightly spicy and she could feel his body heat and his breath. His warm hands guided her and they drew the stem and then the bell-like flower.
She stared at the picture and tried not to show that she was unsettled by his nearness. He sensed it anyways and he moved back to his original position of folding his arms. She was grateful for that at least.
"That's not what it looks like."
He growled impatiently and gestured at the canvas.
"You do it then!" he exclaimed upset that she would dare criticized his skill.
"It's more like this…wider" she said frowning with concentration as she redrew the line. She exhaled.
"There. I think" she said frowning. She looked at him and he stared back with faint annoyance.
"Don't look at me. I wouldn't know what the blasted thing looks like. You're obviously the expert, Hino-san."
"I'm not an expert!"
"Then why did you correct the drawing?"
"Because it was wrong!"
"Well now it looks wrong to me!"
"What's wrong with it?"
"It looks like a gramophone on a stick!"
"That's what Casablancas look like!"
"Then they're ugly little things aren't they?"
"They are not! They're beautiful flowers! You wouldn't know anyway because you obviously haven't seen one!"
They glared at each other and Jadeite hopped off the stool.
"Paint it then. Start writing when you're done. If you're still stuck, trying drawing pink-haired children."
"You don't have to say it like I'm crazy!"
He walked away and slammed the door. The sound echoed in the empty room and Rei huffed, annoyed at him and the world general.
"Asshole. Gramophone on a stick" she muttered angrily. She reached for the paintbrush and the palette and timidly painted a thin green line. It didn't matter what he said. She liked it. Tilting her head, she regarded the picture. It should be wider… She continued to paint and she added a red background. This feeling. It was peaceful. Is this what Michiru felt when she painted? Her strokes became broader and surer. With a tiny brush, she signed her name with a flourish. There. Her first painting. I wonder if he'll let me keep it, she thought nibbling on her lip. An idea formed in her head and she smiled. She walked out of the room, making sure to turn off the light before she closed the door. She knocked.
"Enter", came his sour response.
"I have an idea."
She ignored his sarcasm and continued.
"What if they were revived by the mercy of the gods?"
He swiveled around in his chair to face her. The ink pen hung loosely from his hand and dripped an ink blob onto a piece of paper on the floor. He looked sardonic and she steeled herself for the blow. He crossed his legs and regarded her steadily. His bangs were starting to annoy her; they were flopping into his eyes again.
"What?" she didn't think she heard him correctly.
"How can I come up with ideas if you keep shooting them down?! You're a hypocrite! You say you want me to "grow" creatively and you won't even give me a chance!"
"Trash is trash" he said evenly.
She slammed the door behind her and fumed. Stalking the length of the hallway, she paused, spun around and opened the door without even knocking.
"What wrong with it!"
He answered her without even bothering to turn around.
"It's not magic! It's godly intervention!"
She slammed the door behind her and walked to the closet to get her jacket.
"How are you planning to get back?" he asked from the hallway.
"Taxi!" she snapped slamming the closet door shut.
"Don't take your anger out on the poor door."
She glared at him as she put on her jacket.
"I don't think you want me to write this thing do you?" she said angrily.
"On the contrary. I just think that godly intervention is silly. The whole manga there isn't a single whisper of a god and then poof. Godly interevention. It's too convenient. It's not even believable. The manga is historically based anyways. I don't think Kami has ever been recorded to have intervened in Japan's political affairs"
She sighed. She hated to admit it, but he had a point. It was the only idea that she had. Wait a minute.
"What if…" Wait never mind. The main characters were beheaded. Damnit. He gave her no room to maneuver!
"What if what?"
"I'll take you back."
She opened her mouth to protest.
"No arguments. It's only fair. Besides if you take a taxi at ten'o clock at night, the desk clerk will think you're a fancy whore" he said smirking.
She placed her hands on her hips.
"Do I look like a fancy whore to you?" she asked him threateningly.
"Looks can be deceiving" he said blithely.
She hit him with her purse when he walked over to get his jacket. He chuckled.
"Such anger. Magnificent. How ever do you manage to stay so furious? I would think it tiring. You must sleep like a rock at night. Do you snore? You probably don't even notice if you do" he said placidly.
"You'll never find out" she retorted.
"I should hope not. After you, Hino-san" he said opening the door. She stalked out nose in the air. He smiled softly as he shut the door.
He took the opportunity to give her his information in the car when the light turned red.
"Here's my card. I usually communicate by cell phone. If you get an idea, in the middle of the night tonight, call me. Although, I doubt you will" he said coolly.
She bristled at his tone. "Don't be so sure" she said annoyed.
"So you live at the temple?"
"Yes, I'm a miko."
"Ah, that explains several things."
"Yes. The godly intervention idea. Your anger and deadly aim."
"What do the last two have to do with anything?"
"I'm sure you're chasing away drunks at all hours of the night from the temple steps. And you throw those purification scroll things right?"
"Yes. I do 'throw those things'. I also practice archery."
"I see. Question."
"How did you get that black eye?"
"None of your business."
"Oh? Must be embarrassing."
"I fell" she said sarcastically.
"How clumsy of you. I'm not surprised. Only a clumsy person would let a single, lone bachelor handle cooked food for more than five minutes."
They pulled up to the temple and she got out.
"So. Tomorrow…" he said trailing off expectantly.
"I'll be free around five."
"Perfect. I'll pick you up at five tomorrow. Goodnight, Hino-san."
He drove off and she walked up the temple steps with her hands in her pockets. She was feeling quite pleased with herself. He was an interesting character; he did not fear her. Perhaps, he had no sense of self-preservation; if that were the case, then she could expect to break his arm shortly.
It was around two o'clock in the morning when she had been inspired. She was thinking about an idea and she tried to think about what had happened in her life. She had been killed so many times, that she was an expert on death one could say. There was Galaxia and the Dead Moon Circus. But then there was that one time with the Lemures that she had almost died but she woke up from the nightmare. Her thoughts drifted and suddenly she blinked. She sprang from her bed and reached for the phone in her room. From there, she made her way to the hallway closet to where she kept her coat. The moon was out and it provided her with plenty of light. She pulled out his card and dialed frantically.
"Hello. This is Jadeite speaking" he mumbled into the phone.
"Ahh, Hino-san hit by the inspiration fairy at two o'clock in the morning?"
"Yes. I have an idea."
"Hold on, let me get a pencil." She could hear him rustling in the background and the sound of a light snapping on reach her ears.
"Let's hear it."
"What if it was all a dream?"
"Haven't you ever had a really vivid dream before?"
"Yes, I suppose, but where would you start it over from?"
"The night before the battle, when they're all in the cave. Akia could wake-up and realize that it was all a dream."
"Hmm. She's a complicated dreamer then."
"If you don't like it…"
"Now, now, before you throw a fit. Let me speak. I think the idea has merit. However it will be difficult since you will have to rewrite the storyline completely. Things can't happen the same way or else the reader will get bored. So you will have to come up with a way that they can beat the undefeatable army. Without godly intervention, please. The only way Kami can be involved is in deciding the weather and nothing else."
"Okay then. We might even have to push it back further to the night, before the night of the battle. I'll check up on it in the morning. Goodnight, Hino-san."
She hung up, elated. Hah, that should show him, she thought smugly before shuffling off to bed.
She opened the door quietly and peeked inside the silent apartment, smiling softly. He was soundly asleep on the couch and the place smelled like food. I wonder what they ordered; she thought curious. She set the keys down on the counter and opened the fridge. Lebanese. Hmm. She'd sneak some leftovers later. Placing the tacos inside, she shut the fridge and debated waking him up. In the end, she needed a cuddle, so she decided to go right ahead. She shook him slightly and he practically shot up from the couch, wide awake. She laughed. She had never seen anyone wake up so tense and fully alert. He relaxed when he saw her.
"Hey yourself" she said sitting on the floor with her head on his knee. He reached out and softly stroked her hair.
"How was it?" he asked.
"Good. Makoto made tacos."
"They were better than mine weren't they?" She laughed and she shook her head in the affirmative.
He sighed resignedly.
"Any phone calls?" she asked a bit hopefully.
"I got a visit though."
"Yeah. From some guy, Hakumoro-san. He said he wanted you to play Akia Kumiko."
"AHHHHH!!!!!" she screamed bouncing up and down, "Kami!!! I got the part!! I got it!!"
"Yes, you got the part. Shh. Calm down. Come here."
"Do you know what this means! I got the part!"
"Congratulations" he said wrapping his arms around her.
"Are you sure that's what he said?" she asked worriedly.
"I got it!!! Yay!!" she shrieked in his arms.
"Shh. Too late, too loud."
She laughed and he kissed her.
"I'm going to tell everyone!"
"Don't worry. Mamoru-san was there, he probably told Usagi."
"Oh" she said disappointedly.
"Why didn't you call me?" she said poking his chest. He grabbed her finger and kissed it.
"I wanted you to enjoy your day."
"Aww. Thank you."
"I brought leftovers. They're in the fridge."
He dumped her on the floor and practically ran to the fridge.
"Hey!" she said pouting.
"Damn her" he said from the kitchen, his mouth full.
"Sinful. Much better than mine" he said swallowing.
"I think she used tequila."
"Amazing. You should learn how to cook like her."
"You should date her then, because it's not going to happen."
He chuckled with his mouth full.
"I'm serious. I'm hopeless, at least you do decently with directions, but I can't even do that."
He devoured the last taco and started on the rice and beans.
"Kami, these beans are amazing!"
"Did you want any?" he asked her belatedly.
"Knock yourself out."
"I will" he retorted.
"I Got The Part!!!"
"Oh! I should call Artemis!"
She ran headlong into the bedroom and shut the door. He scraped the plate clean, licked the fork, and burped. He needed cooking lessons from Kino-san.
"Artemis! I got the part!"
He smiled. I should've told her in the morning. She'll be like this all night, he thought. Ah well. It was worth seeing her smile. He placed the plate in the dishwasher and walked into the back.
"Yeah" she said sprawled on the bed, "I just wanted to let you know. So how's Luna?"
She grinned and hung up the phone.
"He hung up on me. They must be having fun."
"As long as my bed isn't involved in the fun, then there won't be any problems. I don't want fleas or ticks. If I start scratching, when I get back then, I'm shaving him."
"He doesn't have fleas or ticks!"
He waved off her protests and went to brush his teeth. Later on, that night he had a dream. It started off hazy. There was a party and everything was bathed in silver. There was a woman in a golden dress and she was in his arms laughing, vibrant and alive. Then, the sounds of a party were off in the distance and there were fireworks. Then the screaming started or was it the fireworks? He shot up in bed breathing heavily as if he had run a mile. What the hell, he thought. He started to tremble; he was soaked in sweat and his head was pounding. The smell of honey lingered and he looked at the sleeping form next to him. Minako. She stirred as if he had called her name.
"Are you alright?"
He reached for her and kissed her hungrily.
"Venus" he whispered against her throat impulsively. It somehow seemed right to call her that. She shivered in response and he pulled away.
"Where are you going?" she said breathlessly.
"Back to the guest room."
"Are you sure?"
That was all the invitation he needed. It would only occur to them in the morning that they had carried on the entire conversation in a dead language.
Read and Review.
Minako: I got the part!
Kunzite: We know.
Minako: Quiet. You're going to be in big trouble in the morning.